Four critical human behavioural states are behind more than 80 per cent of accidents in the workplace, according to an expert in OHS human error prevention, Cristian Sylvestre.
These states are “eyes not on task” (where people are not looking at what they are doing), “mind not on task” (not thinking about what they are doing), “line of fire (where they are already in or putting themselves in the ‘line of fire’) and “losing balance, fraction or grip”.
“Whenever somebody makes one or more of those critical errors, it’s a matter of luck whether they get heard or how badly they get hurt,” said Sylvestre.
“It’s kind of like putting themselves either in the way of a hazard or they’re not seeing the hazard come their way.”
Sylvestre, who is speaking at the upcoming Safety Institute of Australia's Safety Conference in Sydney, said a lot of safety professionals get incident reports where the corrective action is along the lines of “Freddy needs to be more careful,” “Trevor needs to pay more attention” or “Employee counseled so he’s more alert next time”.
However, human error prevention is more about trying to teach people how to be more careful and alert about their own behavior on the job, he said.
“Research has shown that more than 95 per cent of people’s behaviours are habit driven,” said Sylvestre, who is the principal consultant at Safetrain, which specialises in human error prevention within organisations.
“So unless you’ve got something in place that allows or gives people the skills to be able to change their habits, then you don’t tend to address these unintentional and habitual human errors that are behind accidents,” he said.
In most cases, Sylvestre said that total recordable incident rates can be reduced by up to 90 per cent within 12-18 months following training which helps workers become more aware of their own behavioural states on the job.
Sylvestre will be among 70 speakers at The Safety Conference presented by the Safety Institute of Australia Inc at the Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park, from 26-28 October.
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